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Upright Women Wanted

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  16,838 ratings  ·  3,416 reviews
“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for posse
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Tor
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  16,838 ratings  ·  3,416 reviews

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chai ♡
When Esther Augustus witnesses the public hanging of her lover, Beatriz, for "deviance" and "the possession of unapproved materials”, the fire in her is smothered, and something else inside her stumbles to the edge of a precipice, falls off. Esther wonders, not for the first time, what reason it is to cling so stubbornly to her defiance when the current is pulling so hard in the other direction. Esther then decides to run away to join the Librarians in the hope that the company of such “chaste, ...more
Emily (emilykatereads)
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dec 2019:

“be gay, do crimes, circulate books”

is tor pandering to me

April 2020:

This is a short story that packs a punch. Gailey introduces us into this western world that is in a near-future America. The librarians operate to bring Approved Materials to different outposts, but they have other goals.

This story follows the subversive, queer, antifascists librarians as they pick up a "package" to drop off elsewhere. Esther stows away in the librarians' cart with the hope of becoming a librarian. S
On the surface this seemed to be a perfect idea. How can you not love a story of subversive Librarians fighting injustice and the State with gunslinging and Unapproved Materials distribution? I mean, a story about badass librarians is a sure must-read for me, a book-loving nerd. To quote Jo Walton, “Libraries really are wonderful. They’re better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
“When there’s people around who we don’t trust, we let them think we’re the kinds of people who are allowed to exist.”

Upright Women Wanted follows lead character Esther Augustus, daughter of a major ruler, as she runs away to join traveling librarians Bet, Leda, and Cye. In a post-apocalyptic Western society, people who don’t fit are a class all to themselves: some are hanged, like Esther’s old lover Beatriz. Some become librarians.

This novella is an excellent exploration of the pol
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: western, lgbtq
Fight the State.
Be a Librarian.

I was immediately intrigued when I saw this on the back cover of Sarah Gailey’s lovely little novella, Upright Women Wanted, particularly as I myself work in a library. A quick glance told me that not only was this about librarians, but gay librarians fighting fascism in a western-setting dystopia. YUP, sign me up. Gailey surely knows their target market, which truly makes this book so blissfully fun and empowering. On the surface this is a quick dystopian romp ful
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a popular ARC in my office at the library, for obvious reasons! I really wanted to love the book (queer! subversive! librarians!) but it just didn't click for me. I think it's mainly that I, a humble ace, could not understand how the protagonist could go from mourning her best friend/lover (who was JUST executed) to eyeballing the hot enby trainee librarian in the space of a single day. Perhaps this seems perfectly normal to allosexuals and wouldn't bother other readers at all, but to m ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was cute and a few of the characters were great, but the story was really thin. I felt like the author just wanted to showcase these particular characters, not to tell a story really. The setting of the American West in a near future where gasoline was not readily available could have been rich, but we don’t really see enough of that society. Overall 2.5⭐️
destiny ♡ howling libraries
Note to self: don't wait almost a year and a half to review books, especially books you read while in one of the worst reading slumps of your life.

I'll be totally honest: I don't remember a whole lot about this book off the top of my head, but I think that has less to do with its memorable nature, and more to do with my own memory regarding books. I do remember being totally enamored by the characters and loving the plot, though, so I think I might have to re-read Upright Women Wanted in the nea
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wanted and acquired! This is a fun, rooting, tooting cowgirl extravaganza in the New West. The future isn't bright in this post-apocalyptic world in which some states in the former USA have gone back in time to days of the cowboys. Most men and some women know how to shoot and how to ride. Men are large and in charge though with harsh punishment, like hanging for crimes like reading the wrong pamphlet and loving someone of the same sex. Our heroine, Esther, is a dumb kid who believes everything ...more
Lala BooksandLala
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read and discussed in this vlog https://youtu.be/iUN1Zx2N86M where I used a paid book recommendation service to choose what I read. ...more
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
"The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. " OH WOW CATCH ME CRYING FRIENDS ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this so much more than I did. I'm a librarian. I'm queer. I'm subversive. Shit. This just didn't do it for me. It felt like a first draft of something bigger and better. There were only vague hints of worldbuilding. Every character felt only half finished and many of them interchangeable. Any conflict came from a shapeless, nameless concept of generic oppression.

Props for the idea, but this was little more than that.
Shaun Hutchinson
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Now I want to be a librarian.
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopia, lgbtqia, fiction
This is a different sort of book that doesn't fit neatly into any genre. It's a western set in a dystopian-future, an LGBQT+ romance, and an action adventure story complete with bandits, sheriffs, and old-fashioned shoot-em-up scenes. Sounds like a lot but lacks much of a plot. 5 stars for effort but overall, it fell far short of those 5 stars. A few chuckles and some kick-ass lesbian Librarians don't necessarily add up to an incredible story.  2.5 stars rounded up. ...more
This was a super fun, very queer alternative future western novella. Esther is escaping her territory in grief over her BFF/GF being hung and being forced to get engaged to a terrible dude by her authoritarian father. She stows away in the Librarian's wagon. Their official story is they deliver "Approved Materials" but they are really radical queer spies on horseback who aren't afraid to use their rifles. Esther learns the ropes of life on the road and falls for the librarian's nonbinary apprent ...more
Claude's Bookzone
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novella
CW: (view spoiler)

Well this just wasn't for me. It felt like a slice of life story that lacked character development and any depth. The writing was good and I loved the rep, it just didn't hold my interest.
Books have gotten a lot more diverse in the past ten years, or even just the past five years, and I love it. I’ve read more books with LGBT leads in the past year than I think I did in the combined 24 years before that. But only a few of those books have made me feel seen in the way that Upright Women Wanted made me feel seen. I’m sure most of you know what I mean, when you read something in a book that resonates with you so deeply because it’s exactly how you feel and you’ve never seen it writt ...more
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
After watching her best friend/secret love of her life hang for possessing "unapproved materials" (resistance propaganda), Esther learns her high-ranking government official father has arranged for her to marry the man who was engaged to her dead lover.

It's time for Esther to make an escape and she does so by hiding in a librarian's book wagon.  She's spent her entire life pretending to be someone else in order to survive in a fascist society.  Continuing the role as a librarian --- an upright w
Amy Imogene Reads
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2020
4 stars

Resistance Librarians in a future Wild West. When one girl escapes her good-for-nothing town to find a place where she can be free to love who she wants, she's taken on the desert adventure of a lifetime.

Concept: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★

Upright Women Wanted is great. It had a fantastic title, so I picked it up. I read the blurb "fight the State, be a Librarian" and I got excited. Then I opened it up, and I read it in one sitting.

A girl watches her forbidden love get hanged for he
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, ebook-owned
3.5 stars- This is a high concept SF that mostly delivers on its premise and is, even more importantly, fun. Picture it: ye dystopia future in The West. We've got a plucky band of Librarians who are ostensibly a part of the State's institutional arm meant to reinforce a regressive social order, but we quickly learn (along with our point of view character) that this band is more than it seems. I loved the thematic content of this, and much prefer this version of those themes over its predecessor, ...more
Mel (Epic Reading)
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-netgalley
Wonderful novella! Action-packed western starring women and non-binary characters. Men need not apply; well... unless for the role of typical bad guy (lol). While there is a lot that is cliche western in Sarah Gailey's Upright Women Wanted; for every cliche there is an idea that I guarantee you've never read in a western story (novella in this case, 176 pages) before. Unless you're a Firefly fan, in which case read this immediately because you'll feel nostalgic for Mal and crew!

Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
**Macmillan has now reversed its position on the embargo mentioned below:


I was really looking forward to this. I absolutely loved River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, and the alt-history with a Western feel that Gailey captured so well there. In Upright Women Wanted we have near future with a Western feel, but unfortunately I didn't feel Gailey pulled it off quite so successfully.

The main problem I think for me was that the world building was just not fles
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 “I guess this was fine but I won’t remember a word of it in six months” Stars.

I loved Sarah Gailey’s American Hippo books, so I keep picking up her other work and expecting better than what I end up getting.

While this is a far better book than Magic for Liars in terms of narrative quality, it suffers from the same problem of being far, far better in concept than in execution.

Parts of this are cute and charming, but mostly the whole thing feels flat. Add in a protagonist who melodramatical
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-f
4.5 stars
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2020
Are you a coward, or are you a librarian? Queer librarian Western is the genre you didn't know you needed, from the same author who came up with alternate hippo history. I honestly just wish it were longer as I feel like the characters have interesting stories to tell. ...more
The Captain
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys!  I loved the author's books about hippo cowboys even though I didn't enjoy their fantasy novel.  So I was excited that their newest novella was once again set in the American West and deals with queer librarian spies on horseback.  I mean how can ye not get excited about that?  I got even more excited when Matey Tammy @ books,bones,andbuffy sent me a surprise copy of the novella.  She be awesome (seriously)!  Arrrr!

I really, really enjoyed this one.  Only a few small issues
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this, but ended up only liking this. I liked the idea of librarians travelling around an old West-like future, disseminating acceptable materials. The world is violent, difficult, with towns protected by Sheriffs, people needing papers attesting to their identities, tightly controlled information and lack of tolerance for difference.
What I had a hard time grasping was what the world was like. Something had happened in our future to render the world to the state it's in at the st
A queer western with a lot of weird stuff going on.

I'm not sure whether this book falls under the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre or alternate history. It's a western and the main characters travel around in horse-drawn wagons. Cars do exist but no one has gas or other modern technology. The government rules with an iron fist and has a large army. There were hints that the country has been divided up differently, or at least that there are states where you can't travel to anymore, but it wasn't
Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge
Read a Western
(This isn't a true western but I'm counting it *shrugs*)

This was an interesting world. It's a futuristic western. Something happened in this world (a large scale war I believe) that caused them to revert back to living life as the people depicted in "westerns" lived (wagons, six shooters, sheriffs and their posse, travel on the dusty open road by horseback). Cars, diesel fuel, electricity and other modern things exist but they are scarce. The governme
A little gem that I breezed through, not something I've been able to do often this year! It's a bit of a genre mashup, set in dysoptian future with a distinctly western feel. There are darker events, but the tone never gets too heavy, you could even say it's hopepunk-ish.

I most enjoyed: the southwestern imagery in the prose, that the story seemed personal to Gailey and had a positive message relevant for 2020.

If Gailey ever decides to turn this into a series, I'd love to see it set a few years
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Sometimes the monster in your life looks a lot like you. Or exactly like you, but better.   This is the case of Evelyn Caldwell. An...
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“When there's people around that we don't trust, we let them think we're the kinds of people who are allowed to exist. And the only kind of Librarian that's allowed to exist is one who answers to she.” 10 likes
“She wanted that satisfaction. She wanted it for herself wanted it like a half-starved alley-rat watching that table through a window on a bellyaching night. She didn't know how to get it—but she had a feeling that if she stuck with the Librarians for long enough, she might be able to figure it out. How to feast instead of starving.

How to like the person who she was instead of fighting it.”
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